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Why You Didn’t Get That Job Offer (and How to Get the Next One)

Topics: Career Advice
You battled the application bots, made your resume stand out to a live human, and passed the first round of “should we meet with this person” scrutiny. Now you’ve had an interview, and you’re nervously waiting and waiting and waiting for that job offer to come through. But lately, it seems like they never do.
job offer
Dino Reichmuth/Unsplash

Why are you getting interviews, but not jobs? Before you decide that you’re just unemployable, here are some real reasons why you didn’t get that job offer (and how to recover for next time).

You Weren’t Professional

When friends and well-wishers (e.g., your parents) tell you to wear something nice and show up on time for a job interview, they really mean it. Showing up in leggings and a t-shirt to talk with your potential boss about paying you money in exchange for your professional services really isn’t going to cut it.

No, you don’t have to wear a suit to most interviews these days, but you do need to look professional. Likewise, show respect to your potential new coworkers by showing up on time, prepared to talk shop. Start your interview with your best foot forward, and you won’t be digging yourself out of an unemployment hole.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

You Didn’t Ask Good Questions

When they ask you if you have any questions, you should have some. You can’t possibly know everything about your new position, the company, or your potential future there. Try thinking about all the scenarios that could come up after you’ve been at the job six months, a year, five years, and even more. What types of advancement is normal? Is there a path to keep your skills sharp and your job trajectory moving upward? How do they do reviews and what kind of system do they have for employee feedback?

Think about how you’ll want to tackle a career at this new company, not just a job. That will show them you’re looking seriously at sticking around for a long time.

When they ask if you have any questions, the answer should always be, 'Yes.'Click To Tweet

You Were a Flight Risk

This is the problem when you don’t give that “stick-around” impression. Maybe you have applied for a job for which you’re clearly overqualified. Or maybe once the HR director meets you, they see how intelligent and sane you are, and they just don’t think you’d be a good fit in the atmosphere of chaos and turmoil that the company currently offers (count your blessings). Maybe they flat-out think, or know, you’d be bored to tears and want to quit.

The one thing that hiring managers hate is a meaningless hire, so they want to get people onboarded who will stick around for a long time. If you seem like you’re not a good fit, you’re just not going to get that offer (for better or worse, depending on how you look at it).

But hold on, what if you’re looking to change careers? Your background says “designer” but this job is in the HR department of a hospital. Work on having some set explanations memorized so you can tell the story of your experience, and better yet, how you see yourself fitting in to your new position. If you really want to make a big change, you’ll have to deal with some raised eyebrows. Better to have a great pitch than to ignore the elephant in the room.

You Priced Yourself Out of the Job

The end of the interview came upon you so suddenly, it felt like a cold wind ushering in a thunderstorm. What happened? You entered the salary negotiation phase, and you based your ask on hearsay instead of data. Get your numbers from PayScale’s Salary Survey instead, and come to the table with a salary range based on thousands of user responses. Find out what the job should pay, and avoid one of the most common negotiation mistakes: being unprepared and therefore unable to advocate for yourself.

Tell Us What You Think!

What’s your worst interview mistake? We want to hear from you! Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter!


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